Hey, everyone. Just a oneshot between writing longer stuff. Basically, it's a verbal tug o' war between Link and Zelda. And some target shooting. Shockingly, I have derived from my usual habits and made this non-AU. Worry not, though. I'll return to my usual mischief first thing tomorrow.
Not exactly my best oneshot, but not my worst either. Longest I ever wrote though, by far.
Warnings: None, really except some innuendos of a pathetically simple nature.
"Don't get me mad,
Don't tell no lie,
Don't get me sad,
Don't pass me by…
Baby, are you holding…
Holding anything but me?
'Cause I'm a real straight shooter,
If you know what I mean."―Straight Shooter, Mamas and the Papas
Link, for all his flaws, is undeniably handsome. He has been attractive for as long as I've known him, which goes back to approximately eleven years, back in the days when he was still just adorably cute and hadn't evolved to sinfully handsome yet.
His eyes dance with teasing laughter all the time. His skin is naturally tanned from manual work and regular courier work. His dirty blonde hair, though it's mostly messy and overgrown, looks so good on him that when he had it cut, last year, I wanted to wring his neck.
Oh yes, he has flaws. Flaws that cause me far too much torment, like his strange compunction to disappear without warning, only to reappear days later and apologize so summarily and with such a large smirk that he clearly doesn't feel that bad about causing me trauma.
He also only cooks crude food, on account of the whole survival-wary, pathetically poor hero act.
But, really, can I blame him? He's never dealt with long-term relationships before. At least, he has, but he never had to take care of them, because he was unconscious for the most part of seven years, and when he came back he saved the world at the best possible moment, and so everyone forgave him for not stopping by in the meantime. It's hardly tough work. He'd gone through enough toil as it was; he was welcomed with open arms.
I think I forgot to mention his worst flaw, though. The one that came up the moment he woke up to find himself in that amazingly sexy body and was met with me ―though, admittedly, he didn't know it was me― and made a snide comment about how my male body looked like a woman's.
Of course he was right. It didn't insult me any less.
I step out into the large courtyards. Fountains and overhanging vines decorate the area. I really love the gardens, but not so much as I love the bare area beyond, where most soldiers and recruits enjoy an afternoon training round. They strive in a scuffle, and I can see they enjoy the sound of metal against metal and the feeling of not having to hold back. It's a wonderful stress reliever, one I'd gotten used to in my earlier years. When Hyrule Castle was rebuilt, I enjoyed the training as much as they, and encouraged them to take me on.
I spotted Link the moment I came out of the gardens and onto the training grounds. I know he noticed me too, but I won't bother with saluting him. Just because the little bastard looks wickedly good doesn't mean I―
Oh, bugger. There he comes.
As I already mentioned, Link looks better than a cathouse player, more princely than any king, and, as I also mentioned, he has flaws.
He drapes a strong arm around my shoulder and leans in to whisper a greeting in my ear, with that smirk of his never leaving his godly face.
His arrogant, overconfident, godly face, that is.
"Well, what have we got here?" He asks, and I ignore that I'm feeling undeniably warm. I bless the blazing sun for giving me a scapegoat. "Could it be the extraordinary uptight princess Zelda has chosen to join her commoner soldiers for an afternoon brawl?" He made a disapproving sound. "How unladylike."
Ah, there it is. Link's most blatant and legendary flaw, the only thing historians will forget to tell the future generations about. They'll tell children all about Link's numerous and heroic deeds, about how he saved Hyrule and its fair ―give me some credit please― princess from the greedy, evil hands of Ganondorf, but they'll never once, not once, tell them what asinine gall he has.
I can't blame them. It's never a pleasant thing to discover the hero of your childhood is actually an ass with egoistic and showy tendencies.
That's Link's greatest flaw. He's sexy, and he knows it.
Of course, having to deal with him for the better part of the whole "overthrow Ganon" quest, I can tell that something in him snapped when he woke up and discovered he was so fine. Through the whole rescue of the sages, he kept reiterating ―when he was not constantly reminding me that I, as Sheik, looked like a woman― that someone so beautiful should not have to deal with earthly troubles. He said it with a teasing tone, but it was clear he enjoyed being good-looking. In the very midst of a battle, he sometimes screamed over at me that he belonged with the gods, not with giant fire-breathing dragons.
The number of times I'd have slapped him senseless exceeds the quantity of rupees hidden in the castle vault.
Oh, there were times when he lost the cocky face and let, just briefly, a vague look of concern escape him against his will. Like the time in Kakariko village where he and I were attacked by Bongo-Bongo, for instance, and he'd jumped in front of me to defend me, getting injured in the process.
Seeing his perfect face get bruised hurt me as much as it must have hurt him, though in the end I had been upset with him anyway, because when I'd nursed him cursorily and commented that he was coming around, he'd grinned at me, cocky again, and said that of course he was, did I ever doubt it?
When I'd revealed to him that I was in fact not Sheik but actually Zelda, he'd also looked surprised, but then had amended the uncharacteristic expression by saying that it explained why I was so womanly as a man. Because the hour was so dire, I'd made an exception and had refused to lecture him. I think it was from that moment on that he thought I was an uptight princess.
Oh, there was the moment where Ganondorf had kidnapped me in which he'd looked very angry indeed. I suppose he just wasn't used to losing comrades suddenly. He'd been awake for only a few months, and hadn't lived the tragedy of the seven years. I hadn't thought he'd come for me so quickly, but when I saw him in that doorway, bloody with Ganondorf's minions' entrails, eyes murderous, I was glad I had not crossed him previously.
He'd listened to Ganondorf's speech in atypical silence, and then, when Ganondorf finally quieted down, he'd flatly said something to the Evil King that still makes me smile, though I'll never admit it to him: 'Well, aren't you one demented failure.'
He'd fought with an anger that I'd never seen in him. Ganondorf was defeated so fast that it still stuns me to this day. I refuse to flatter myself by thinking that my kidnapping had a part to play in Link's fury, but I don't suppose he'd have been in quite such a hurry if I hadn't been taken away from him. When Ganondorf had fallen to his knees and spat blood into Link's face, the damned Hero of Time had only bothered to flick it off his cheek and glare. This had frustrated Ganon, I remember, and the many windows around us had shattered, showering Link with shards of glass that had cut his perfect skin and made him cringe. But he hadn't commented on his destroyed appearance.
I think he was feeling so murderous by then that he'd forgotten a part of himself at the door.
When the castle had started its collapse, he'd followed me diligently, in that angry silence that scared me, somehow. I had to close my eyes when he destroyed the enemies that stood in our way, because he was still enraged and had ripped them to shreds. I remember a time when a stalfos' bone had splintered into pieces near my face, scratching blood out of me. He'd looked at me blankly and apologized with little emotion.
I don't really remember how I could have thought something so inhumane and unnatural, but I actually preferred his cocksure side at that moment in time. Seeing him hurt had had an effect on me. I was actually worried for him.
He'd taken my hand, then, and his was still bloody and sticky, and he'd dragged me out, pulling and running until we were out of breath.
And then, after he'd been hit and battered by shards of stone and brick ―he'd protected me bodily more times than I can admit― we came out of Ganondorf's fortress and stopped to look back at its collapse. He turned to me, smiled a vexing grin, and asked, 'Was that concern on your face when I got hit by that stalfos?'
Gone were my worry and respect. I glared at him with all the anger I could summon and sulked.
Of course, Ganondorf hadn't been done with. As he morphed into Ganon, Link ran into the circle of fire, pushing me backwards and telling me, briefly, that this was his fight and that I'd done my part. He'd looked serious again, and I can't remember another image of him that commanded such admiration and, well, deep affection from me.
When Ganon knocked the Master Sword out of his hands, it was sincere worry that made me gasp and attempt to reach it in the rubble. He'd taken out the hammer and continued to fight, even though we both knew the Master Sword was a key item for Ganon's sealing. In keeping the monster occupied, he'd allotted me some time to retrieve the sword and throw it to him.
When, against Ganon's will, he caught hold of the Master Sword and continued to attack the monster mercilessly, I saw that he'd gotten deep wounds from those immense blades. I felt guilt nag at me. If I hadn't thrown him the ocarina all those years ago… I'd felt that all his misery, for what I could see now, showing through his mask of boisterous confidence, was my fault.
My magic had swelled, then, and I'd channelled it properly to immobilize Ganon.
Link's eyebrow had risen in my direction. To Navi, he'd said, 'I think she's frustrated. Think there's anything my perfect body can do?' I remember glaring at him and telling him to deal the final blow. He'd obeyed, which, in light of our previous adventuring, had been a rare and unusual occurrence. It didn't happen afterwards, save once.
The time I'd asked him to return to the ocarina to me.
He had obeyed, wonders of wonders, but as I explained what I wished to do, he'd panicked. He'd put a hand on my mouth, not delicately, mind you, between my lips and the ocarina, and said, 'Are you nuts? This body gave me so many privileges! Do you know how hard I worked to get that Gerudo membership card?'
Well. That had caused me to pull his hand away from my face and comment on his blatantly obvious perversion. He'd shot me one of his sexy smirks and shrugged.
Keep the ocarina, he'd said, but I had better not send him back.
That's why his arm is draped on my shoulder right now: because, for once in my life, I did the mistake of actually obeying the Hero of Time. I think the only reason I did is because I didn't actually want to send him back. He knows it, too.
Of course, he's into believing that I've got some sort of infatuation with him, which is so absurd that it's insulting. In fact, far from mocking me, he's taken to trying to seduce me. I push him away because I certainly do not have an infatuation with that handsome and sexy bastard, hence his incessant calling me uptight.
"I enjoy sparring," I respond simply to his comment about my presence in the training grounds.
"Not as much as you enjoy my company," he says, simply, and tries to drag me towards a more secluded area. I disentangle myself for two reasons: one, I really do want to spar with the soldiers, and two, I do not trust myself or Link in a secluded area.
Though the possibilities and promises that he keeps making sound rather appealing to my lonely mind sometimes, especially at night, when he haunts me, unbidden but not undesired, for once. Because, very well, I'll admit it: Link makes me want to push him onto his back and straddle him until he's senseless and loses all knowledge of himself.
But that's all. It's not infatuation. It's just a normal woman being teased by a very, very handsome man. Sometimes, I catch myself wondering what it must be like to let Link have his way. My guess is that it would be rather pleasant.
I've been silent too long. Link shoots me a smile, and though it's still a grin, it had softened. "What's on your mind?"
You on your back, I refuse to say. My cheeks flush, and he notices it. He smirks.
"My, has the princess matured so fast, then?"
"Stay it, Link," I say, and move away from him. He keeps up the pace, striding easily by my side, looking unconcerned.
"I'm very curious now," he says, slyly. "What could possibly upset you when I'm simply asking you what's running through your mind? I certainly don't hope it's another man but myself. Now that would simply not do, would it? Besides, you and I both know I am the most handsome man in the country. I doubt you'd find someone as good as me just like―"
Oh, I've had enough of this!
"Link, where have you been in the past week?"
He pauses in his ramble, looks to the sky in thought, and says, "Ah… I think it was Holodrum, this time."
"Yes," he says, glad to be able to speak even more about himself. "I was delivering a package of crucial importance."
"Really," I say with less-than-mild interest. "Well, that would explain why you don't really know who is on my thoughts at the moment."
He laughs teasingly. "Oh, Zelda, you poor innocent. I know I'm the one you keep thinking about."
His ego practically begs for the sport. I grasp this occasion to burst his bubble.
"In all honesty, Link, there's a rather handsome prince who came to visit this week."
His eyes grow competitive and somewhat more serious― not much, though. All right, I've caught him in the trap. Now I simply need to close it and make him admit defeat.
"Ah, a handsome prince, you say?" He unsheathes his sword and hands me a dagger. It may look an unfair fight, but we never won a match against each other yet, as they always end in draws.
He lunges for me first. I twist out of his way and block the blow by holding the dagger backward.
"Yes," I breathe. "He's tall, dark and handsome. Just the typical knight in shining armour."
Link's brow is raised. He swings again, and I parry. This time, I lunge for his blind spot. He knows what to expect and moves away, just a hair's width out of range. He knows how I fight, and I can calculate everything he does.
"I didn't know you liked the type," Link says. "But I'll keep it in mind."
"He enjoys poetry."
Link laughs outright. Hm. I'd forgotten he knew that I hate poetry. I jump for his throat, and he blocks almost lazily.
"You're not convincing me," he says as he pushes me backwards.
"He has the same political views as me. My father thinks he'd be a fine match."
Link just furrowed a brow. He's taken another step into my trap. I let him swing once, and slip past his guard, swinging my dagger. I'm aiming for his heart as he'd aimed for my head. He blocks it with less agility than usual, but his strength is all there nonetheless. I haven't caught him yet.
"A fine match?" Link asks.
"He's elegant, he knows his manners."
Link laughs, but it's a bit breathless. We're working hard at trying to find each other's weakness.
"He kissed my hand in greeting, and I wasn't repulsed."
Link frowns, pushes his sword into a thrust, but I duck then roll for his legs. He swings downwards, but all he catches is thin air. I've moved behind him and brought my dagger under his lightly blond-stubbled chin.
"Not repulsed?" He knows I've kept this element for novelty. He isn't familiar with my appraisal of a foreign dignitary. He usually enjoys my putting them down.
"Oh, certainly not. On the contrary, it made me feel rather pleasant. It sent shivers down my spine. Then, he asked me for a walk, and he was very interesting and knowledgeable."
"… Really?" Link doesn't sound all that convinced, and he sends the hilt of his sword backward powerfully into my stomach, but I've already moved out of the way. He jumps out of my range again. He knows the reach of my arm.
"Really," I say. "But he's very modest about it. He's clearly a scholar, though he refuses to tell me more. It's intriguing."
Link furrows a brow, and says, "Why would you be interested by a man who enjoys keeping secrets from you? I thought you liked honesty." I can see that his mask is slipping. As though he realized what is happening, Link adds, with another, half-hearted swing of his sword that belies his words, "Besides, no man can possibly be as agreeable as me."
I expected him to relapse into assurance, and so I throw out my last resort, the one I know will injure him and make him stop his self-absorption. "He is rich beyond measure."
His sword falters in the swing he was attempting. As the tip of it falls to touch the ground, Link looks up to me with wide, stunned eyes. We stand face-to-face, breathless, and Link does not say a thing. He looks as though he's choking on his own words.
"Link?" I ask, sweetly.
He says nothing. I can see his eyes trying to read mine, his mouth opening and closing, his chest heaving, but nothing leaves his uncharacteristically still lips.
"Rich?" He suddenly croaks. "Beyond measure?"
I nod. He sheathes his sword. I sheathe my dagger.
"Well," he suddenly says, "when are you going to marry him?"
I look at him in surprise. I'm not sure he realizes that this prince person does not exist.
He continues even though I didn't answer him. "It's a pity, really, especially with all that money I've been gathering lately." His confident air is hanging by a thread. He's looking at the sky, not meeting my gaze. Don't think I didn't notice.
"I'm sorry?" I ask, because I really don't know what he's on about.
He smiles forcedly, and says, with a fake sort of teasing tone, "Well, you know. You need to marry a rich and titled man, right? So I've been working extra hours and odd jobs to save up some money, while counting on my Hero of Time title to fit the second criterion."
"But why would you do something like that?"
He laughs, now, and I feel his familiar confidence return. He pushes his hair out of his eyes, looks down at me and says, "You're denser than usual, Zelda."
I take offence at that, and he sees it on my face. He flicks my forehead, and I squeak. How condescending! How dare he!
Taking my chin between his fingers, he says, slowly, as though I weren't smart enough, "I'm just warning you." He smiles. "Don't think for a minute I believed that whole 'I love this prince' act. I know you're head over heels in love with me, princess, and, as I'm not one to disappoint, I have every intention of making enough money to gain the status needed to be one of your suitors."
My eyes widen and my jaw drops. I glare at him, though he still looks so very full of himself. "You've got nerve, assuming the workings of my heart."
He laughs. "I don't assume, Zelda. I know. Now, let's call that first spar a draw and try our hand at the shooting range, shall we?"
He moves away, but I stand my ground.
"I never once said that I love you."
He turns to look back at me and seems to consider me. He's silent for a long moment then sighs. He walks back towards me. "I thought this argument was settled."
"Well," I say, "It's not."
He sighs and shakes his head at me. Argh, the nerve of that man.
"Zelda," he says, "don't be childish about this. It's ridiculous."
"Me? Childish?" I exclaim. "Well, that's rich."
He drapes his arm around my shoulder again, and leans so that his face is near my cheek. He turns just enough to whisper hotly in my ear. Hm, this feels good. "I know you desire me. I see it in your eyes. The way you walk away from me, the way you avoid looking at me most of the time, the way you look at me during banquets, the way you try to best me in everything, the way you lock yourself up in the library but look out the window at the training grounds when I'm working, the way you're more upset than usual when I leave, the way you look worried when I come back. Zelda, enough denying. You should know better than trying to lie to me." He smirks, nuzzling the area behind my ear. "Your right eyebrow goes up when you lie."
What? I think about it, and feel myself grow hot. He's right, the little bastard.
I'll never admit to it, though.
"Shooting range," I say, "Winner chooses the outcome."
"Sweetheart," Link smiles confidently, "Upping the reward just makes me want to try harder." He nevertheless starts walking casually towards the shooting range.
"Don't call me sweetheart," I grind out. He knows I hate those ridiculous pet names. He uses them precisely to unnerve me.
"Alright then, I'll stop now." He grabs his quiver and longbow from where they are leaning against the wall. "Let's make it fair. You get five shots, and I get three."
"Link…" I begin, warningly.
"Zelda," he replies, with a patient sigh, "I've defeated Great Poes and done the Gerudo Shooting Practice. I am one of the, if not the best archers in Hyrule. And Labrynna," he adds as an afterthought, remembering his championships. "I'm only trying to give you a slim possibility to shake me off."
I smile at him. "We'll see if you didn't shoot yourself in the foot, hero."
He bows, inviting me to start. "So we shall."
I step up to the white line that was drawn on the ground. I stretch my arms and squint at the target. Link chose the medium ranged one. It was fair.
"Centre for fifty. Outer reds for twenty, outer whites for ten, last red for five. Fallen or broken shots cancel out," I declare. "If I win, I marry the first decent man who knocks at my door. If you win… well, you'll decide."
Link suddenly loses his grin. He stares at me. "First man who― But…!"
"I guess you'll have to avoid losing," I simply answer him as I nock my first arrow. I aim carefully and release the string. It cracks, sending the arrow flying in a long, low arch. Thankfully, it hits the centre dead-on.
Link nods admiringly. "My, my. Your aim has bettered since our last session. Ah well. Never mind that."
He nocks an arrow, pulls in one swift movement, hardly aims, and releases it, all in less than a second. It lodges itself so close to mine that a large splinter cracks off the wood of my own projectile.
He pouts, cocks his head to the side and says, "Well. That could have gone better."
I have an urge to tell him off. Instead, I pull the string of my bow back, and release another arrow.
It strikes just slightly to the side of my previous shot, on the edge, just inside of the centre. Well. Not a perfect shot, but I still gathered up another fifty points. Link smiles with a raised brow again and looks impossibly handsome in the blinding sunlight. Goddesses, why did he have to be so attractive and yet be such an ass? It's cruel and unfair.
"Did something distract you, my grace? That last one was a bit off."
I'm somewhat afraid that Link has been dozing off during those etiquette courses the knights have to take after all. It's no secret that he's put the old headmistress under his handsome spell, yet there's no doubt that he's aced all the tests he was put through at the end of the course without her adoration to aid him.
But… where in the world was he when they taught him not to call royalty with a first person possessive?
I ignore the warm feeling that spreads whenever he speaks to me. By Din, one would almost think that I'm infatuated with him.
He draws back another arrow with the same detachment as always. This time, though, he seems to aim longer, his eye squinting and his gaze focused. I'm a bit surprised to find out that he is trying to make every shot count.
I have trouble believing that he's actually taking this seriously. The only other thing he actually took seriously was his battle with Ganondorf! Surely, he doesn't think of me as his new archenemy?
I'm so busy pondering his shift in attitude ―and admiring the way the sunlight makes his already perfect face look like a godsend― that I start when his arrow thuds and my arrow splinters into three pieces, destroyed by his aim and the sheer power of his shot.
How dare he! Tearing fifty points from me like that! And since his arrow is still lodged in the target, he keeps his own! I'm fifty points behind him now! The cocksure bastard!
He wipes his brow, and then turns to look at me, all traces of seriousness gone. He smirks at me and nods towards my broken arrow, lying all the way over there, fragmented. "What can you say to that?"
"If that is how you treat all your opponents," I respond flatly, "it's a wonder you haven't been murdered aggressively yet."
He laughs. His laughter makes me want to drag him behind a barn and― well, he's hinted at intentions like those before, and I will not dignify him or my torn mind with more.
"Zelda," he says, deep in his throat, making him sound like a hardly sated lover. "I doubt I've upset you that much. Raise your hopes. You still might defeat me."
I glare at him and nock another arrow. I see him, out of the corner of my eye, putting his bow down and coming towards me. Before I can focus enough on shooting, he's reached me and has put his hands on my upper arms. His heat makes my heart pound painfully, and my legs nearly give out under me from the effort of trying to remain upright. The simple heat of his hands instantly makes me desire him.
I'll admit it.
It's exactly as he says. I'm infatuated.
I want to let him know me better than anyone else, body and mind alike. He scares me when he's angry and he's impossible to read and he's overconfident and he's so improper, but he's so reliable and never violent, and he's open-minded and he cares and by Din! Just see what his touch does to me!
His voice in my ear is enough to make me feel faint.
He makes use of that voice of his just now, saying, deliberately ―he knows what he's doing, the bastard― and hotly into the crook of my neck, "If you want to catch up, you'll have to make use of your remaining three shots to gather enough points to surpass a hundred and fifty. A whole hundred more points, princess. That's the only way for you to have definite victory."
I have to gather my wits before I can say, without much of a tremor, "In that case, please step away so that I may be free of my movements."
His hands clench slightly on my upper arms. I can't see his face, but I feel him grow nervous. Perhaps he's come to terms with the fact that I will defeat him?
I lift my bow to aim once more, but am hampered by his immobile form.
"Link," I say, as coldly as I can.
"Don't mind me," he says, finally stepping back. Even in the blinding sunlight, it suddenly feels chilly.
I aim carefully. He's moved out of my way for sure now. I can see him on the side of the target grounds, just a few steps away from me. He is gazing at me with an unreadable expression on his face.
I try to focus on the task at hand, and so I look back at the target.
Movement out of the corner of my eye brings my attention back to him. He's let out a long sigh and has begun removing his tunic. He tugs it up over his head then jerks it off in a quick motion. He rolls his square shoulders as he ruffles the cloth into a ball that he discards into the grass next to him and then shoves his hands into the pockets of his pale, coarse trousers.
Perhaps it is just an impression, but the sun is back with a vengeance.
Goddesses, the man is cut. It's no secret that he's well fit, though to hear it and to see it are two entirely different things.
My arm, tired of holding the taut string back, suddenly lets go. I turn my head just in time to see the arrow thud into the target.
And miss the centre by a large margin.
The corners of Link's eyes crinkle at me. He's not innocent, though I can't accuse him of distracting me, despite the veracity of that fact, because that would simply fan his teasing and confidence.
"That was somewhat disappointing of a performance," Link calls to me. "A mere twenty points? You'll have to do better than that if you want to defeat me."
Out of spite, I immediately pull back another arrow and, hardly aiming, strike the centre cleanly. Link's eyes widen and he raises his hands up in front of him, pointing an accusing finger towards me, loudly exclaiming, "Hey! I resent that! That was supposed to be my shot!"
I shoot him a smug look. Well, that last one was rather good a shot after all, if I do say so myself.
"Thirty points to go, Link," I say to him. "And I can easily do it."
Link falls silent. I'm surprised. It's a rather rare occurrence. I figure he's calculating his chances for victory. He rapidly comes to the same conclusion as I. In order to win with one last shot, I'd have to hit the centre once again and get fifty points sharp.
I smile at him sweetly. "Would you like to place your last shot?"
He says nothing, but takes aim and shoots. As expected, his arrow hits the centre, point wedged against my previous arrow's tip, like a metallic kiss.
Shrugging, as though in defeat, he says, "It's a shame one can't aim at a higher scoring point than the centre." He turns to me. "Let's see you end this little tournament."
I take out my final arrow from my quiver and place it carefully. I can see Link, looking deliciously fine on the side of the field, as he nervously paces back and forth. I also notice he's drifting further and further towards me.
I have a bad feeling about this.
I focus on my aim until I know that he's right behind me.
"Don't miss," he whispers, and I'm surprised that he'd wish to lose. It's rather uncharacteristic. "I'll find a way to you."
He says it so simply, and without much arrogance either. It's like he's just making a definite promise, one he'll have no trouble keeping.
"Don't distract me," I warn him, my gaze never straying from my target.
"I hadn't noticed the time fly," he observes, without heeding my warning. "All the guards are already eating their meals inside. We're all alone."
This much, I can't help but notice, is true. The courtyard, until some time ago, had been rather lively. But now, I can hear the wind and the ruffle of leaves and grass.
"This place is actually rather out of sight, don't you think?" Link comments. I can now hear the familiar undertone of suggestion. "No one could guess anything that transpired in this court unless they were in it as it happened."
"What are you implying, Link? You'd rather murder me than lose and so are appreciating how appropriate this courtyard is?" I say all this without losing my aim.
"Not murder, Zelda," he says in a hoarse, sinfully tempting breath.
"You will address me by my title," I command to disguise my unease.
"Horse rot. I'll call you by your name, not your title."
"You could also afford not to speak so foully. It'd be unfit for a king, if you ever had had a chance to become one."
He says nothing.
"It's not the title of king I want," he says. His hand gently touches the small of my back. I hadn't expected the motion and nearly start. He puts his arm around my waist and whispers, in my neck, "I'd like to be your life companion."
My voice shakes as I struggle to keep my arrow pulled and my body alert. "Let go of me, and do refer to me by my title."
There is a nearly endless pause at the end of which he finally relents. I prepare to shoot, but out of the corner of my eye, I see Link bending to gather his affairs. He isn't even looking my way, he doesn't even look curious to see if he won or lost. He simply gathers his belongings…
… And begins to walk away, shoulders bent slightly, as though he is bearing a burden of untold weight.
Perhaps on any other day this would relieve me. It would signify that he has given up for the day, that he would be back, that he'd be even more arrogant when he did. Perhaps on any other day I'd feel relief, I'd be proud to have pushed him away successfully once more.
There's an old Hylian saying that says, "In pushing a well-intended gift away from the heart, one loses both."
In that instant, he manages to make me feel like the poorest, most heartless woman in the world.
My hand lets go of the arrow. It thuds into a zone marked ten points.
The sound makes Link stiffen, his back turned to me. "I lose," he says, resigned, though he hasn't even taken a look at my last shot. He's unusually quiet. "I suppose you'll be choosing another than myself after all."
My voice is weak when I pronounce the final score. "You marked a hundred and fifty points. I marked… A hundred and thirty."
He stops dead in his tracks, and slowly turns.
I can see his eyes counting on the target. Then, he looks at me, shocked. And his face slowly, predictably, splits into a face-cracking grin.
I expect him to mock me. I expect him to begin naming his terms of victory. I expect him to gloat, to boast, to scream, to dance, to unnerve me, to shame me.
But he does nothing of it.
"Now that we've settled that I'm far more distracting than you'll ever admit," he says, instead, "say that we be wed and rid of the minor annoyance your secret infatuation presents?"
I shake my head, putting my bow down and beginning to walk away. "Once you manage to be serious again, I'll listen to your terms."
"One kiss," he calls after me.
He says it simply, and it reaches me easily over the warm, dry air. I roll my eyes and look back towards him. He is waiting, torso bare, hands carelessly shoved in his pockets again, belongings dropped next to him, eyes bright blue and matching the sky, meters away from me.
Part of me knows this is a trap.
And part of me is screaming that it wouldn't hurt to kiss the handsome bastard's lips.
Perhaps I've become a fool, because I turn on my heel and walk back towards him slowly. He looks laid-back, as always, and waits without moving for me to reach him again. Once I am in front of him, he looks down at me and asks, "Will you spare me one kiss?"
The mere question sends my stomach and heart into a flurry.
Before I can answer him, he bends down and softly presses his lips to mine. Fire radiates from the place on my shoulder where he put his fingers to hold me still. As I reach up to embrace his neck, I feel his warm tanned skin under my palms, burning almost with his undying heat. My fingers find his nape, and I run my fingers through the short hair that grows there. The pressure he feels on the back of his neck, mixed with my caress, makes him smile and let out a breath through his nose. He presses his lips against mine more insistently.
I hardly control myself. I'll admit I've kissed Link once, as a child, a long while before he entered the Temple of Time. It was more of a thank you, and he didn't seem too enthusiastic about it. Boys!
This, however, is delightfully different. It almost seems as though Link has been given every talent upon aging in the Chamber of Sages, including the talent to make a woman mad with a desire for more.
When he carefully pulls away, I see that his mouth is not straying very far from my lips. His eyes are bluer, even, from up close. He smiles softly, not arrogantly, not smugly, not amusedly. He simply smiles. It makes him look uncannily gentle.
"Will you please marry me when the time comes?"
I raise a brow at him. "You already had your terms. I held my end of the bargain. This is where you have to win against me once more."
"I'm not playing anything. I'm just asking you a favour."
I frown. "A favour? Since when do you ask favours?"
"I never did before. I'm praying it's going to work despite that."
I pause. Maybe I should admit to him that I'd wait the rest of a lifetime if only to be kissed like that again.
Or maybe I can just smile, unclasp my arms from around his neck, and walk away.
Link looks shocked and unsure of what to do as I walk towards the castle doors. But he shouldn't worry, really.
"There's a rather handsome hero who came to visit this week," I call back to him.
Link's eyes crinkle as he smirks, and he begins to follow me casually, gathering his belongings under his arm.
"A handsome hero, you say?"
"Yes," I smile. "Tall, fair-haired and handsome. Your typical knight in shining armour."
"I always knew that was your type," Link says knowingly, catching up with me in long, even strides.
"He despises poetry."
"Sensible man," Link gravely comments.
"He has the same political views as me." I declare, and add, with honesty, "My father thinks he'd be a fine match."
"A fine match?" Link asks with a relieved surprise in his tone. "Really, now?"
"He's inelegant most of the time, but he knows his manners if he needs to."
Link laughs outright, nodding as he chuckles, as though he is conceding a point.
"He kissed me today, and I wasn't repulsed."
"Not repulsed?" He raises a brow and stares at me pointedly, to make me admit the truth as it is.
"Actually, it made me feel rather pleasant. It sent shivers down my spine. I've never felt something so strong before."
"Interesting," Link says, with obvious pride.
"You might say so, yes," I concur. Then, flatly, "Though I know he'll never let me forget I said that."
"You're absolutely right." Link nods, vigorously, having found his usual confidence again, "I'll make sure to brand it into your mind, even." We step up to the castle doors. Link continues his rambling. It seems he's back to normal. The ass. "Say, Zelda, now that we've agreed that you'll be marrying me, could you stop making me beg for a kiss? It's no secret you're desperately in love, and we both know no man can possibly be as agreeable as me..."
That was it for Straight Shooter. I'll reiterate that this is NOT one of the pieces I announced in my profile, and that this is a oneshot, which means there will be no sequel or following chapter.
I can say that Zelda's tone in this shot borders of cruelty towards Link. But then again, I don't think many people would be able to remain patient with the cocky attitude Link boasts in the first place, so I suppose they're even.
It's fun to take a spin on the personality of a voiceless character. It totally changes the world where he evolves. His interactions with others change, and his and their perception along with it. It's really a cool exercise.
Anyway. Review if you want or if you have anything inane you'd like to share, such as an inexplicable addiction to cookie dough ice cream, like I do. (Hmm, cookies.)